Beresford’s Lost Villages website – the progress so far

The Beresford’s Lost Villages website was officially launched a year ago. This blog reviews the last year on the website, and reflects on the progress that has been made in providing full descriptions for all the deserted medieval villages listed in 1968. It also looks forward to the work to still be done….

Deserted Medieval Villages as known in 1968 (Beresford and Hurst 1971)
Deserted Medieval Villages as known in 1968 (Beresford and Hurst 1971)

When the website launched in 2014 we had completed the full descriptions of 404 villages from the 2263 listed on the 1968 Gazetteer of deserted medieval villages (Beresford and Hurst 1971). We also presented a further 80 settlements in Berkshire which had been identified since 1968, as an example of what could be done. Of these 484 sites, 281 have been classed as Deserted Medieval Villages, 60 as Deserted Medieval Hamlets, 48 as shrunken, 12 as migrated, 12 as shifted and 71 as doubtful by the website. This refinement of the Gazetteer, viewing truly deserted settlements against those that do continue in some form, and those we now see have no evidence of desertion is beginning to clarify the picture of desertion. But of course this is still a dated picture – one from nearly 50 years ago. For Berkshire, the one county were an update has been attempted, there has been a 186% increase in recorded settlements since 1968. However there was only a 30% increase of DMVs as classified by this website.

Deserted Medieval settlements showing the 1968 Gazetteer sites but also the classification of the deserted sites completed on the Beresford's Lost Villages website
Deserted Medieval settlements showing the 1968 Gazetteer sites but also the classification of the sites completed on the Beresford’s Lost Villages website

In total out of the 484 sites first listed with full descriptions by the website, 341 are still classed as deserted (70%). If you only consider the 404 villages from the 1968 Gazetteer, there are 81% remaining classified as deserted. Since the launch it has been possible to complete the descriptions for two more counties – Essex and Gloucestershire – we are now having to fit this in around other University commitments…… This has added a further 84 sites with full descriptions. Of these 47 are classed as DMVs, 12 as Deserted Medieval Hamlets, 4 as shrunken, 1 as migrated, 1 as shifted and 19 as doubtful so yet more refinement to the 1968 Gazetteer.

County 1968 DMV DMH Doubtful Shrunken Shifted Migrated
Bedfordshire 18 8 2 4 3 1
Berkshire 43 37 6 5
               additions 80 13 8 21 30 3 2
Buckinghamshire 56 34 8 7 1 4
Cambridgeshire 16 9 2 3 2
Cheshire 4 2 1 1
Cornwall 11 1 6 3 1
Cumberland 8 1 2 5
Derbyshire 33 19 6 5 1 2
Devonshire 15 6 5 3 1
Dorset 42 31 4 3 3 1
Durham 29 23 1 1 3 1
Essex 17 11 3 3
Gloucestershire 67 36 9 16 4 1 1
Yorkshire (East Riding) 129 97 15 9 6 1 1
Total 568 328 72 90 52 13 13

Of course the counties that have so far been tackled may not represent the full picture by the time the website is complete. Many of the counties that have full descriptions on the website fall in areas of diverse settlement patterns such as the area of the south-west with Devon and Cornwall complete. The counties tackled include six of the 15 counties identified in 1971 as requiring much further research. The results do show the relevance in reviewing the evidence, but also show the need to update the 1968 Gazetteer, often still used as the distribution map of deserted settlements in the country. On some occasions a slightly updated version (villages known up to 1977) is presented, but no published Gazetteer to accompany this exists.

Deserted Medieval Villages known up to 1977 (Aston 1985)
Deserted Medieval Villages known up to 1977 (Aston 1985)

And to the update, it is hoped that in the future we will be able to review all the evidence for deserted settlement in each county and produce a refined version of the maps of deserted settlement – but that will require funding and an application is being drafted as we speak – it would be wonderful to be able to publish an updated Gazetteer of deserted settlement in 2018 – the fiftieth anniversary of the original list…..

As to the website – how have people been using the site? Well this is always to hard to judge….. We are grateful to all those who have written in with corrections – wrong coordinates, parishes etc., and those who have pointed us towards published articles that have escaped our attention – we are constantly editing and updating the entries that at are visible. In total there have been over 2000 different visitors to the website (who have explored more than the front page), they have viewed over 27,000 pages and come from all around the world. Not surprisingly 92% of the users have been based in the UK, but 3% in the USA and visitors from many European countries such as Germany, Denmark, France and the Netherlands as well as more far flung destinations such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Russia, India, Brazil and Japan. The most visited county page has been the East Riding of Yorkshire with 856 different page views. The second most viewed county is the Lindsey area of Lincolnshire. As for villages – unsurprisingly the most visited village page has been Wharram Percy (with 49 different page views), followed by Eske in the East Riding of Yorkshire (37 page views), Hound Tor in Devon (35 page views) and Quarrendon I in Buckinghamshire (34 page views). It is good to see that the site is being so widely used.

So the task in hand at the moment is to keep going, county by county to write the full descriptions for each village. This is no easy task. We are tackling them in alphabetical order but this does slow the process down when you are faced with one of the larger counties. We have just started to review the evidence for Hampshire and with 124 villages listed in 1968, this will take a while to complete. Here are the counties still to complete….

Hampshire 124
Herefordshire 11
Hertfordshire 44
Huntingdonshire 18
Isle of Wight 32
Kent 69
Lancashire 0
Leicestershire 67
Lincolnshire 220
Middlesex 0
Norfolk 148
Northamptonshire 82
Northumberland 165
Nottinghamshire 67
Oxfordshire 102
Rutland 13
Shropshire 9
Somerset 27
Staffordshire 22
Suffolk 23
Surrey 5
Sussex 41
Warwickshire 128
Westmorland 2
Wiltshire 104
Worcestershire 7
Yorkshire, North Riding 170
Yorkshire, West Riding 75
Total to go…. 1775

So we plod on – keep you eye on this blog for updates on how we are going along the way and hopefully Hampshire will appear with full descriptions before the summer……

The current state of play with writing full descriptions for each village on the 1968 Gazetteer
The current state of play with writing full descriptions for each village on the 1968 Gazetteer

References

Aston, M. 1985. Interpreting the Landscape. London: Batsford.

Beresford, M.W. and J.G. Hurst (eds) 1971. Deserted Medieval Villages: Studies. London: Lutterworth Press.

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Deserted Villages in Gloucestershire – some examples

This blog reviews the evidence from some of the deserted villages in Gloucestershire that appear on the Beresford’s Lost Villages website. Gloucestershire is the latest county which has appeared on the website in its full form with descriptions of all the settlements listed in 1968.

Upper Coberley

The earthworks of Upper Coberley have been recorded to the west of Westbury and Lower Farm. They include a trackway and at least ten building outlines however much of the area is now covered in trees. These earthworks are 500m to the east of the shrunken settlement at Coberley. In Domesday Book a single hide is recorded at Upper Coberley as part of the manor of Northleach. In later records Upper Coberley is recorded with Northleach, apart from 1327 when it is recorded separately and seven people are assessed (Franklin 1993: 44). In 1334 they pay an above average amount of Lay Subsidy. At least 24 people were taxed in 1381. It continues to be recorded through the sixteenth century. The earthwork evidence clearly shows a more extensive settlement than the three farms now present.

Ditchfords

There are three deserted settlements at Ditchford, although only two made it onto the 1968 list of deserted settlements in Gloucestershire. All three Ditchfords recorded in documents, Upper, Middle and Lower, and all continued as a separate farm. The earthworks of Lower Ditchford can be clearly seen to the north of Ditchford Mill, to the northwest of the Knee Brook. The history of these sites is complex as they formed a detached part of Worcestershire, within Gloucestershire, at various points of time (Beresford and St Joseph 1969: 16-17). The complex set of earthworks of Lower Ditchford includes a number of tofts on either side of a sinuous hollow way and wide green. At least 12 building enclosures and at least eight buildings have been identified. Surrounding the settlement is a number of fields which were probably seasonally flooded water meadows. A number of building structures are possibly post-desertion structures.

Earthworks at Lower Ditchford. Copyright Google
Earthworks at Lower Ditchford. Copyright Google

The earthworks of Upper Ditchford are located to the west of Neighbrook Manor (formally Upper Ditchford Farm). A central green is surrounded by a range of building and house platforms. The village is surrounded by extensive ridge and furrow suggesting the area of the earthworks and present farm buildings are the maximum extent of the settlement.

Earthworks of Upper Ditchford. Copyright Google
Earthworks of Upper Ditchford. Copyright Google

There is not always a clear division into separate settlements in the records. Ditchford was recorded in the Worcestershire section of the Domesday Book with a minimum population of five. In 1334 Upper and Middle Ditchford are recorded in the Lay Subsidy but Lower Ditchford is absent. The value of the tithe-corn in Upper Ditchford had halved in value between 1384-1419 and the end of arable farming is signalled when it ceased completely in about 1475(Dyer 1982). The villages at Ditchford were noted as ruinous in 1491 by John Rous, a priest of Warwick (Rous 1745).

Lancaut

The remains of medieval settlement of Lancaut are located on a peninsula formed by a meander in the River Wye, close to the ruins of St James’ church. The earliest part of the church dates to the late twelfth century, but a lead font dating to 1130-1140 from the church is now on display in Gloucester Cathedral.

Lead font from Lancaut now in Gloucester Cathedral
Lead font from Lancaut now in Gloucester Cathedral

The church was remodeled in later periods but has been in ruins since c. 1865 (Parry 1990). The lack of fine architectural detail and small size of the church suggests it served a small parish. The remains of the deserted settlement can be seen to the north and west of the church. A geophysical survey in 1994 identified linear features but no discernible buildings. The modern settlement of Lancaut is situated further to the north on the higher ground.

Place-name evidence suggests that a church at least may have been present on the peninsula since the seventh century. There is no clear taxation history for the settlement but the manor of Tidenham had ten tenants at Lancaut in 1306. At Lancaut in 1551 there were 19 communicants and five households were recorded in 1563 (Herbert 1972). By 1710 four families are recorded and this had decreased to two inhabited houses by 1750 (Herbert 1972).

Lemington

Extensive earthworks are visible between Upper Lemington (now just Lemington) and Lower Lemington. It can be suggested that these are the remains of the settlement of Lemington and formed a larger single settlement rather than two separate places. The earthworks run to the north of Lemington Manor are those traditionally called Upper Lemington, and these carry on northwards to the church at Lower Lemington. There are further earthworks to the north of the church. As such this would be quite an extensive settlement. Some of the earthworks appear to be overlain by ridge and furrow suggesting an early date for abandonment. A hollow way runs from Lower Lemington Manor south along the current hedge line.

Earthworks to the north of Lemignton Manor, with Lower Lemington to the north of the picture. Copyright Google.
Earthworks to the north of Lemignton Manor, with Lower Lemington to the north of the picture. Copyright Google.

Both settlements were simply recorded as Lemington up until the sixteenth century lending support to the idea of one continuous settlement (Elrington and Morgan 1965). At Domesday there are two entries for Lemington, with the one identified as Upper Lemington being an outlier of the large manor at Deerhurst. Lemington pays an average Lay Subsidy in 1334. In 1524 a below average amount is paid, and seven households are recorded in 1563. Throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries there has been a steady population recorded at Lower Lemington. There were around 20 households in 1650 but only six paid the Hearth Tax in 1672 (Elrington and Morgan 1965). The distinguishing of Lower and Upper Lemington may just be a result of two different manorial descents and land holdings. This settlement is now considered to be evidence of a shrunken settlement, rather than a deserted village.

Sennington

The earthwork remains of a settlement known as Old Sennington can still be seen from the air. These include at least two north-south hollow ways, and a number of indistinct croft boundaries. A report of coins having been discovered was published in 1889 which also suggested that the original chapel of Sevenhampton may have been located at the settlement (Hall 1889-90). The present church at Sevenhampton is located 800m to the southeast. Unpublished excavations at the site in 1936 revealed stone walls as well as twelfth and thirteenth-century pottery (Baldwyn and O’Neil 1958, Dunning 1949).

Earthwork remains of Sennigton. Copyright Google
Earthwork remains of Sennigton. Copyright Google

Sennington would appear to be a variant of the place-name Sevenhampton, with other variants including Senhampton and it is suggested that this is indicative of seven settlements (Smith 1964: 117). Many small hamlets and farmsteads become deserted in the parish in the fourteenth century (Jurica 2001). No separate settlement of Sennington is recorded and it is possible that these earthworks were one of the smaller settlements of Sevenhampton, or it could have been an extension of the settlement of Nash to the west.

Taynton Parva

Taynton Parva is an excellent example of a number of different medieval landscape elements including a ringwork, motte and bailey, moated site and fishponds, a church, swannery as well as the settlement evidence. The castle site is the most distinct feature in the centre of the site, with the moated site to the east and the location of the church to the southeast. The site is surrounded to the south and east by a defensive earthwork constructed during the Civil War when Royalist Troops were garrisoned at the site. The evidence of the village is less clear and some of the features are covered by trees so are hard to interpret from the air, but presumably lay around these sites. The site has been surveyed but the remains are still open to interpretation (Williams 1996).

Taynton Parva settlement. Copyright Google
Taynton Parva settlement. Copyright Google

At Domesday a minimum population of six is recorded. In 1327 nine people are assessed (Franklin 1993: 88). In 1334 a below average Lay Subsidy is paid. By the sixteenth century there is only a record for Taynton and it is not subdivided into Magna and Parva. The church was in existence by 1134 but burnt down by Royalists in 1643 (Williams 1996, Rudder 1776). This has been confirmed in recent years by the discovery of metalwork in the area, particularly lead from the church (Rawes and Wills 1998). It has been suggested that the village was abandoned by 1485, but there is insufficient evidence to be sure (Williams 1996). In 1285 the landowner was granted a charter to use his lands at Taynton as a hunting chase and warren (Williams 1996). It is perhaps this that signifies the start of a slow decline.

These few villages give a flavour of the range of sites that become deserted in Gloucestershire – the remaining evidence and the documentary details available.

References

Baldwyn, R.C. and H.E. O’Neil 1958.A Medieval Site at Chalk Hill, Temple Guiting, Gloucestershire, 1957’, Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society 77: 61-65.

Beresford, M.W. and J.K. St. Joseph 1979. Medieval England: An Aerial Survey. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 16-17.

Dunning, G.C. 1949. ‘Report on the Medieval Pottery from Selsley Common, near Stroud’, Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society 68: 30-44.

Dyer, C. 1982. ‘Deserted Medieval Villages in the West Midlands’, Economic History Review 35: 19-34.

Elrington, C.R. and K. Morgan 1965. ‘Lower Lemington’, in C.R. Elrington (ed.) A History of the County of Gloucester. Volume 6: 216-220. London: Oxford University Press.

Franklin, P. 1993. The Taxpayers of Medieval Gloucestershire. Stroud: Alan Sutton.

Hall, J.M. 1889-90. ‘Sevenhampton’, Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society 14: 328-355.

Herbert, N.M. 1972. ‘Tidenham including Lancaut’, in C.R. Elrington and N.M. Herbert (eds) A History of the County of Gloucester. Volume 10: 50-79. London: Oxford University Press.

Jurica, A.R.J. 2001. ‘Sevenhampton’, in N.M. Herbert (ed.) A History of the County of Gloucester. Volume 9: 166-187. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Parry, C. 1990. ‘A Survey of St James’s Church, Lancaut, Gloucestershire’, Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society 108: 53-103.

Rawes, J.A. and J. Wills (eds) 1998.’ Archaeological Review No. 22’, Transactions of Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society 116: 191-212: 208.

Rous, J. 1745. Historia Regum Angliae. Oxford

Rudder, S. 1779. A New History of Gloucestershire. Cirencester: S Rudder: 726.

Smith, A.H. 1964. The Place-Names of Gloucestershire Part 1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Williams, S.E. 1996. Taynton Parva Deserted Medieval Village. Its History and Archaeology. Lydney: Dean Archaeological Group Occasional Publication No. 2.

New county released – Gloucestershire

This week we look at the most recent county to be completed on the website – Gloucestershire – where all 67 sites listed as deserted medieval settlements in 1968 now have full descriptions. This list includes sites which may never have seen nucleated settlement, sites which have been abandoned in the fourteenth century due to numerous factors affecting the fortunes of the villagers as well as a number of interesting stories with complex village histories.

Deserted villages in Gloucestershire as listed in 1968
Deserted villages in Gloucestershire as listed in 1968

The compiling of a definitive list of deserted medieval settlements in Gloucestershire has seen many attempts. There are 15 sites mentioned by Beresford in 1954. A revised list of sites in 1959 contained 28 settlements (Icomb had been lost by this point) and a further revision in 1962 added 26 settlements and noted that Icomb, Little Sodbury and Halford had been deleted from the list (although it is not clear when Halford had ever been listed or if this is a typographical error for Harford) (Hurst 1960, 1962a, 1962b).

By 1968 the list of deserted settlements had reached 67. A number of settlements do not appear in the 1968 Gazetteer that we would expect to see at this point such as Middle Ditchford which is absent whilst Lower and Upper Ditchford both appear.

In 1980 Alan Saville published a list of deserted medieval village sites with earthworks in the Avon and Gloucestershire Cotswolds particularly those that were under threat of ploughing (Saville 1980). This listed a total of 43 settlements – of which 24 were on the 1968 Gazetteer. This did not include all the villages recorded in 1968 in this sub-region of Gloucestershire, but those that could be clearly identified on the ground. This resulted in 19 further sites being identified. In 1981 Mick Aston and Linda Viner published the first attempt at a list of the deserted settlements in Gloucestershire since the 1968 Gazetteer. This included settlements mentioned in Beresford (1954), Beresford and Hurst (1971), Saville (1980) as well as unpublished sites in the Medieval Village Research Group Archive, those that had been deleted from previous lists, and those in the records of Gloucestershire and District Archaeological Research Group. This list was not a definite list of known and tested sites, but was presented as a starting point for further investigation (Aston and Viner 1981). This included 173 sites, (14 from Beresford 1954 [including the deleted ones] and 66 from 1968 [Lark Stoke since having transferred to Warwickshire]). By 1984 this list had risen to 195 (Aston and Viner 1984). Aston and Viner (1984) do suggest that many of the deserted settlements should not be called villages, lacking the size or criteria to be villages – such as the presence of a church. For the purposes of this website, many settlements have still been classed as deserted villages as opposed to deserted hamlets as the evidence would suggest a sizable population once inhabited the site, even if the settlement was subsidiary in status to another settlement.

Deserted villages listed in 1968, as classified by the Beresford's Lost Villages website
Deserted villages listed in 1968, as classified by the Beresford’s Lost Villages website

Since these surveys much work has been carried out on individual sites but also on the wider context of settlements studies in the West Midlands. One researcher who has made a vital contribution to this study has been Christopher Dyer who has provided regional overviews (Dyer 1982, 2002) as well as in-depth studies of particular settlements (Aldred and Dyer 1991, Dyer 1987, 1998). In one of his earlier reviews of deserted settlements in the West Midlands he shows the range of reasons for desertion, and that on many occasions this is the result of long-term changes rather than sudden events, and the final abandonment of many settlements was after a slow gradual decline (Dyer 1982). These long-term affects often saw outward migrations from settlements and while accusations of forcible eviction were present there is also evidence of land owners trying to encourage tenants to stay by offering building repairs and support, or forcibly ensuring building maintenance (Dyer 1982: 28).

Within Gloucestershire there is a range of different landscape types which have seen different patterns of settlement development and desertion. This includes areas of nucleated settlement such as the Cotswolds as well as areas of very small hamlets and individual farms, which dominate the woodland areas of west Gloucestershire (Dyer 1987, 2002). One landscape that has been intensively studied has been that of the Cotswolds. Here a concentration of deserted sites has been identified (Dyer 1982). This shows the increase in the number of settlements identified since 1954 when Beresford stated ‘the Cotswolds have been remarkably free from depopulation’ (1954: 351). Traditionally the Cotswolds are seen as a pastoral landscape with nucleated settlements, but the medieval pattern was significantly different.

The nucleated villages of the Cotswolds were associated with high levels of arable agriculture and the development of open fields instead of the modern pastoral view (Dyer 1987). These settlements often show evidence of planning in their structure and layout. One suggestion for the organisation of settlements is the high proportion of slaves recorded at Domesday and the need to house these families close to their manorial centre (Dyer 1987, 2002). However this was not always the case and some villages which on the outside looked like single planned units may have actually involved more than one landowner (Dyer 1987). On the Cotswolds nucleated villages were not the only form of settlement. Hamlets, mills, sheepcoates and granges were all present highlighting the presence of dispersed settlement intermingled with the nucleated villages (Dyer 2002). Some of the smaller settlements may have originated in areas heavily wooded, developing a dispersed pattern as small areas were gradually cleared (Dyer 2002).

On the Cotwolds there is a concentration of deserted settlements and a once packed landscape saw a reduction in settlements. Dyer provides a nice illustration of this when looking at one particularly deserted settlement – that of Lark Stoke. There are now only three villages within 2 miles of the site, but at the height of settlement activity there had once been 11 villages and hamlets across the same area (Dyer 2012: 137). The Cotwolds seem to have been heavily affected by the crisis that developed in the fourteenth century. The Nonarum Inquisitiones for Gloucestershire shows that villages were starting to struggle in the mid-fourteenth century; Harford and Ailworth recorded in 1341 that ‘many tenants left their holdings and left them vacant and uncultivated’ and at Littleton ‘seven parishioners of the hamlet of Littleton … abandoned their holdings and left the parish’ (Dyer 1982: 22). In total 17 parishes in Gloucestershire recorded tenants leaving and land being uncultivated (Dyer 2002). One suggestion Dyer puts forward to explain these struggles is the over-extension of arable farming and a shortage of livestock to help maintain soil fertility (Dyer 1982: 22). Long-term sustainability of the great number of settlements and such intensive arable agriculture was not possible and through much of the Cotswolds a decline in population was seen between 1300-1520 (Dyer 1987). Of the settlements that were struggling in the mid-fourteenth century, a number seemed to be heavily affected by the late fourteenth century, possibly compounded by the Black Death. Land that was gradually abandoned as villagers sought their fortunes elsewhere was then gradually enclosed. The conversion of land to pasture was recorded in the fifteenth century. In the 1480s John Rous published a list of 60 Warwickshire villages that he observed in ruins, some of which lie in modern Gloucestershire including the Ditchfords and Sezincote (Rous 1745, Dyer 1982). That a number of settlements were deserted and then put over to sheep farming is attested by the presence of sheepcotes over the earthworks at sites such as Manless Town, Pinnock, and Hilcot (Dyer 2002). These buildings would have been used to shelter sheep and from the excavated examples and documentary evidence seem to be common between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries and have gone out of use by the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries (Dyer 1995).

Excavations

Gloucestershire has seen a number of different projects investigating deserted settlement sites. The earliest excavation was in 1907 at Hullasey which identified two buildings and the possible location of the chapel (Baddeley 1910). A more recent re-evaluation and survey of the site has suggested that this was in fact four buildings with over 30 buildings identified across the site (Ellis 1984).

Hullasey Grove (c) Google Earth
Hullasey Grove (c) Google Earth

Excavations at Old Sennington in 1936 revealed stone walls and twelfth to fourteenth-century pottery but the results remain unpublished (Baldwin and O’Neil 1958). In 1962 trial trenches were placed across the settlement earthworks at Manless Town, partly to discover if any of the remains were Roman in date (Wingman and Spry 1993, Smith 1998). The results were not published at the time and recent discussion shows different interpretations. Further field walking was undertaken at the site in 1992 which produced twelfth and thirteenth-century pottery (Smith 1998).

Manless Town settlement. Copyright Google
Manless Town settlement. Copyright Google

The most detailed work has been carried out at Upton under the leadership of Philip Rahtz between 1959 and 1968 as part of the courses taught at Birmingham University (Hilton and Rahtz 1966, Rahtz 1969, Watts and Rahtz 1984). This work focussed on detailed analysis of the earthworks, the excavation of a series of buildings in the centre of the site as well as a number of small trial trenches across the settlement boundary and outlying buildings (Hilton and Rahtz 1966, Rahtz 1969). The survey identified at least 27 buildings, but the evidence from excavation suggests the number is probably greater as a single earthwork may hide a number of other structures. The excavated building earthwork at the centre of the site revealed a series of stone buildings focused around two separate longhouses which were expanding and being adapted over time, preceded by timber structures (Hilton and Rahtz 1966, Rahtz 1969). It is suggested that the main building phases were later twelfth to fourteenth century. Only a few finds can be dated to the fifteenth century and are nothing more than indications arising from people walking across the site. In 1973 a number of trenches were excavated across the site to improve the water supply and a watching brief conducted at the time recorded 49 features, and showed a number of features that were not visible on the earthwork plan of the site as well as buildings outside the core of the settlement (Watts and Rahtz 1984).

Since this early work there have been no extensive excavations at any other Gloucestershire site, but a number of detailed landscape and documentary surveys have added to our knowledge of settlement development and desertion. One long-term project investigated the landscape around Frocester starting in 1961 running up until 2009 (Price 2000a, 2000b, 2008, 2010). This took a long-term view and found evidence of a Roman villa under the medieval church. It has also clarified that the village of Frocester has a complex development, with a number of smaller farmsteads doted around the area and that the isolated church does not represent the location of the medieval settlement. This evidence downgraded Frocester as a deserted medieval village, although added a number of other smaller potential deserted sites.

Frocester - St Peter's Church (c) Google Earth
Frocester – St Peter’s Church (c) Google Earth

Other settlements where study since the 1968 Gazetteer has revealed detailed evidence of desertion include sites such as Little Aston (Dyer 1987). Here Dyer has shown the development of a small settlement and its relationship to the nearby Aston Blank. He has also shown the decline starting in the early fourteenth century and how one of the factors that led to desertion was the stress caused by the bullying tactics local miller, with outward migration from the settlement noted in 1340 when seven parishioners had left the parish (Dyer 1987). Little Aston fits into a landscape in the upper Windrush valley where another four deserted settlements are located (Aylworth, Castlett, Eyford and Harford) and where surviving settlements also show evidence of shrinkage such as at Temple Guiting and Aston Blank itself (Dyer 1987). Dyer has described the desertion in this landscape as ‘very severe, and began unusually early’ (Dyer 1987: 176).

At Taynton Parva a survey by the local archaeological group has brought some clarity to the plan of the earthworks at this complex site, but the exact layout of the settlement is still unclear (Williams 1996). A number of other sites have been studied as part of larger projects. Lark Stoke has been investigated as part of the Admington Survey looking at the development and decline of three neighbouring villages (Dyer 1998). The rise and fall of Thornden is discussed by Dyer in his consideration of hamlets and dispersed settlement in the Cotswolds (2002).

Taynton Parva settlement. Copyright Google
Taynton Parva settlement. Copyright Google

County Records

Two Historic Environments Records cover the area of Gloucestershire. The Gloucestershire HER is based in Gloucestershire County Council and can be accessed via HeritageGateway at http://www.heritagegateway.org.uk/gateway/. The South Gloucestershire HER is based in South Gloucestershire Council and is currently not available online. Gloucestershire Archives have a useful online search facility at http://ww3.gloucestershire.gov.uk/DServe/DServe.exe?dsqApp=Archive&dsqCmd=Index.tcl

Much of the work undertaken in Gloucestershire has been published by the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society and their Transactions can be accessed online via their website at http://bgas.org.uk/publications/transactions.html, allowing many of the key articles referenced here to be freely available.

References

Aldred, C. and C. Dyer 1991. ‘A Medieval Cotswold Village: Roel, Gloucestershire’, Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society 109: 139-170.

Aston, M. and L. Viner 1981. ‘Gloucestershire Deserted Villages’, Glevensis 15: 22-29.

Aston, M. and L. Viner 1984. ‘The Study of Deserted Villages in Gloucestershire’, in A. Saville (ed.) Archaeology in Gloucestershire: 276-293. Cheltenham: Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museums and Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society.

Baldwyn, R.C. and H.E. O’Neil 1958.A Medieval Site at Chalk Hill, Temple Guiting, Gloucestershire, 1957’, Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society 77: 61-65.

Baddeley, W. St C. 1910. ‘The Manor and Site of Hullasey, Gloucestershire’, Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society 33: 338-354.

Beresford, M.W. 1954. The Lost Villages of England. London: Lutterworth.

Beresford, M.W. and J.G. Hurst (eds) 1971. Deserted Medieval Villages: Studies. London: Lutterworth Press.

Dyer, C. 1982. ‘Deserted Medieval Villages in the West Midlands’, Economic History Review 35:19-34.

Dyer, C. 1987. ‘The Rise and Fall of a Medieval Village: Little Aston (in Aston Blank), Gloucestershire’, Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society 105: 165-182.

Dyer, C. 1995. ‘Sheepcotes: Evidence for Medieval Sheepfarming’, Medieval Archaeology 39: 136-164.

Dyer, C. 1998. ‘Medieval Pottery from the Admington Survey: Some Preliminary Conclusions’, Medieval Settlement Research Group Annual Report 13: 24-25.

Dyer, C. 2002. ‘Villages and Non-Villages in the Medieval Cotswolds’, Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society 120: 11-35.

Dyer, C. 2012. A Country Merchant, 1495-1520: Trading and Farming at the End of the Middle Ages. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Ellis, P.J. 1984. ‘The Medieval Settlement at Hullasey, Coates’, Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society 102: 210-211.

Hilton, R.H. and P.A. Rahtz 1966. ‘Upton, Gloucestershire, 1959-1964’, Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society 85: 70-146.

Hurst, J.G. 1960. ‘Appendix C. Gloucestershire: Revised D.M.V. List 1959’, Deserted Medieval Village Research Group Annual Report 8.

Hurst, J.G. 1962a. ‘Appendix A. List of the Deserted Medieval Villages Identified Since the Publication of Lost Villages of England in 1954 and December 1962’, Deserted Medieval Village Research Group Annual Report 10.

Hurst, J.G. 1962b. ‘Appendix B. List of sites deleted from ‘The Lost Villages of England’ between 1954 and 1962’, Deserted Medieval Village Research Group Annual Report 10.

Price, E. 2000a. Frocester: a Romano-British settlement, its antecedents and successors. Volume 1 the sites. Stonehouse: Gloucester and District Archaeological Research Group.

Price, E. 2000b. Frocester: a Romano-British settlement, its antecedents and successors. Volume 2: the Finds. Stonehouse: Gloucester and District Archaeological Research Group.

Price, E. 2008. Frocester: a Romano-British settlement, its antecedents and successors. Volume 4: The Village. Stonehouse: Gloucester and District Archaeological Research Group.

Price, E. 2010. Frocester: a Romano-British settlement, its antecedents and successors. Volume 3: Excavations 1995-2009. Stonehouse: Gloucester and District Archaeological Research Group.

Rahtz, P.A. 1969. ‘Upton, Glos., 1964-68’, Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society 88: 74-126.

Rous, J. 1745. Historia Regum Angliae. Oxford.

Saville, A. 1980. Archaeological Sites in the Avon and Gloucestershire Cotswolds. Bristol: Committee for Rescue Archaeology in Avon, Gloucestershire and Somerset.

Smith, N. 1998. ‘Manless Town, Brimpsfield: An Archaeological Survey’, Glevensis 31: 53-58.

Watts, L. and P. Rahtz 1984. ‘Upton Deserted Medieval Village, Blockley, Gloucestershire, 1973’, Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society 102: 141-154.

Williams, S.E. 1996. Taynton Parva Deserted Medieval Village. Its History and Archaeology. Lydney: Dean Archaeological Group Occasional Publication No. 2.

Wingham, H. and N. Spry 1993. ‘More Recent Views on Manless Town, Brimpsfield SO 928 116’, Glevensis 27: 26-32.

Currently Completed Counties – Essex

This week’s blog reviews the evidence from Essex. This is the last of the counties that currently have completed descriptions of each village on the Beresford’s Lost Villages website to be reviewed . In 1954 a total of six deserted villages were listed by Maurice Beresford, all which appear in the later 1968 Gazetteer and are mainly those identified through the presence of isolated churches (1954: 350). There were 17 settlements recorded in the 1968 Gazetteer and Essex was noted as one of the counties needing further study. Of these 17, nine are unlocated settlements recorded in Domesday but their modern counterpart is not known, and the majority of the remaining identifications continue to be based on the presence of ruined or destroyed churches. A number of the settlements have had a chequered history and been added to, removed and added back to the lists of deserted settlements such as Wickham Bishops (DMVRG 1962, DMVRG 1963).

Since 1968 some work has extended the list of potential deserted settlement sites. In 1977 Warwick and Kirsty Rodwell undertook a survey of churches in Essex, particularly those that were threatened and derelict (Rodwell 1977). Within this survey several of the churches at sites of deserted medieval settlement were reviewed. However it is unclear whether these ever formed centres of a nucleated settlement or if they were instead serving a widely dispersed parish. Since 1977 more sites have been identified but again some of these are simply on the basis of an isolated church.

 

Deserted villages of Essex listed in 1968 as classified by the website
Deserted villages of Essex listed in 1968 as classified by the website

Investigation into the medieval landscape of Essex has not been extensive (Rippon 2008: 181). There is evidence of much dispersed settlement (Martin 2012: 234-35). Rippon has reviewed the nature of the landscape as part of the ‘Great East Anglia’ and the nature of settlement outside the nucleated village zone which highlights the variation of settlement in the area (Rippon 2008).

Detailed research has been published into the affects of the Black Death on the Essex population and this paints a picture of high mobility, but one that was present before the events of 1349. It also showed that the pattern in Essex of the rural population and society is one that cannot be used across the country as a whole (Poos 1991).

Excavations

None of the settlements on the 1968 Gazetteer have been excavated, and none of them show evidence of buried remains from aerial photographs or the presence of earthworks, apart from church remains. The National Mapping Programme of aerial photographs undertaken on behalf of English Heritage did not highlight many medieval features, though moated sites were one of the most common (Ingle and Saunders 2003). However in general there has been considerable valuable work undertaken in the county looking at a range of site types from moated sites, to farmsteads, mills and industrial sites (Medlycott 2006). All this work has confirmed the dispersed nature of settlement in the county. It has also shown that a number of sites had been abandoned in the fourteenth century, something alluded to by Poos (1991) (see Medlycott 2006: 5). There has also been a historic settlement assessment of 29 parishes in the county (Medlycott 2011: 61).

The Essex HER (Historic Environments Record) can be accessed online at the Unlocking Essex’s Past website – http://unlockingessex.essexcc.gov.uk/. This covers the areas of the County of Essex and the Unitary Authority of Thurrock. A search here reveals 101 sites that are classed as ‘deserted settlements’. This includes a number of moated sites and possible shrunken settlement remains, but also a large number of untested sites that the HER records as only ‘possible DMV’ and that they probably appeared on the recorded due to the isolated church. Essex is still a county which would benefit from a detailed survey of the deserted settlements.

References

Beresford, M.W. 1954. The Lost Villages of England. London: Lutterworth.

DMVRG 1962. ‘Appendix B: List of Sites Deleted from ‘The Lost Villages of England’ Between 1954 and 1962’, Deserted Medieval Village Research Group Annual Report 10: Appendix B.

DMVRG 1963. ‘Appendix A: Deserted Medieval Villages – New Sites 1963’, Deserted Medieval Village Research Group Annual Report 11: Appendix A.

Ingle, C. and H. Saunders 2003. National Mapping Programme Essex: Management Report. Unpublished Report Essex County Council and English Heritage.

Martin, E. 2010. ‘Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex: Medieval Rural Settlement in ‘Greater East Anglia’’, in N. Christie and P. Stamper (eds) Medieval Rural Settlement in Britain and Ireland AD 800-1600: 225-248. Oxford: Windgather.

Medlycott, M. 2006. ‘Sweet Uneventful Countryside: Excavated Medieval Farms and their landscape in Essex’, in N. Brown and M. Medlycott (eds) Research, Planning and Management: the East of England Archaeological Research Framework Review http://www.eaareports.org.uk/FW_Medlycott.pdf

Medlycott, M. 2011. Research and Archaeology Revisited: a Revised Framework for the East of England. Norwich: East Anglian Archaeology Occasional Paper No.24.

Poos, L.R. 1991. A Rural Society: After the Black Death: Essex 1350-1525. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Rippon, S. 2008. Beyond the Medieval Village: The Diversification of Landscape Character in Southern Britain. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Rodwell, W. 1977. Historic Churches: a Wasting Asset. London: Council for British Archaeology Research Report 19.

Currently Completed Counties – East Riding of Yorkshire

This week we review the evidence for deserted settlements in the East Riding of Yorkshire. Although the Beresford’s Lost Villages website is reviewing and writing descriptions for each village by county in alphabetical order, Yorkshire (East Riding) was taken out of sequence as it is home to the project and has a long history of study of deserted settlements. It has proven to be one of the most searched counties on the website.

Yorkshire as a whole was one of the counties to have separate lists of deserted villages produced in the early years of study, with the list for the East Riding appearing in 1952 (Beresford 1952). As such in 1954 Beresford only published some of the key sites ‘intended as a guide for visitors’ (Beresford 1954: 392). The 1952 list noted 123 sites, although in the introduction Beresford hints at 99 (Beresford 1952: 44). He suggests that around 40-50 were a result of sheep farming depopulations and 20-30 were earlier desertions due to the Black Death (Beresford 1952: 4). A number of settlements had also been lost through coastal erosion. By 1968 the number of settlements had risen slightly to 129, with three of the 1952 listing having disappeared in the meantime.

Deserted settlements listed in 1968
Deserted settlements listed in 1968

The East Riding of Yorkshire has remained a focus for attention, with the research project at Wharram Percy being a catalyst for other studies elsewhere. The continued investigation of medieval settlement in the area has resulted in the increase of known sites and the listing of many shrunken settlements. Research has included detailed local studies. One of the key examples of this is the PhD thesis of Susan Neave that looked at settlement contraction during the seventeenth and eighteenth century, with particular examples from the Bainton Beacon division of the county (Neave 1990). This revealed that many of the ‘classic’ deserted settlements of this area such as Rotsea and Sunderlandwick were late depopulations and that for many villages the end was a long drawn-out process. Also new forms of evidence occasionally appear which allow clearer pictures to be painted of settlements and their road to desertion. A recently discovered survey from 1723 of the village of Menethorpe has allowed the pre-desertion settlement to be viewed in new light, the families of farmers to be traced, with the final desertion of the village placed in 1872 (Cookson 2010-2011).

Deserted settlement remains at Sunderlandwick. Copyright Google.
Deserted settlement remains at Sunderlandwick. Copyright Google.

The landscape of the East Riding is characterised by nucleated settlements and this is one of the reasons why we see so many villages initially identified in the county as the picture was much clearer than areas of dispersed settlement. There have been numerous studies of settlement development in the different zones of the East Riding with ideas of planning in village design and the origins of open-field systems (e.g. Harvey 1980, 1982, Sheppard 1976).

Deserted settlements as classified by the website
Deserted settlements as classified by the website

Excavations

For information on the long-term project at Wharram Percy please look under the Beresford pages of the Beresford’s Lost Villages website as this provides a summary of the work undertaken between 1950-1990 as well as the more recent topographic and geophysical surveys. It also discusses the impact this project had on a generation of archaeologists.

However Wharram is not the only site to be investigated in the county. Numerous excavations have been carried out, some on a small scale and never fully reported such as at Auburn and Wauldby. Other small projects have included that at Arras, where fieldwork in 2004-05 to the west of the farm found a large quantity of pottery dating from the twelfth to fifteenth centuries (Phillpott 2005). It also potentially located the position of the chapel.

At Hilderthorpe, to the south of Bridlington, an excavation on the main street in 1954-5 found a fifteenth-century pot sherd in a re-cut and sealed ditch, confirming that the street was in use in the medieval period. Other features uncovered included a number of walls from toft boundaries and possible buildings (Brewster et al. 1975).

The site at Riplingham can be clearly seen from with road. A hollow way runs east-west with crofts and tofts to the north and south. Excavations in 1956-57 were undertaken to the west of Riplingham House. The first house excavated was found to date from the late fifteenth or early sixteenth century with phases of reconstruction up to the middle of the eighteenth century (Wacher 1966). The second house excavated was built in the thirteenth century and rebuilt twice before becoming completely ruined in the late fourteenth century (Wacher 1966). A further house site was excavated in 1966 (Wilson and Hurst 1967).

Riplingham, East Yorkshire. Copyright Google.
Riplingham, East Yorkshire. Copyright Google.

At Cowlam, a rescue excavation was conducted in 1971-2 in advance of ploughing (Hayfield 1988). A courtyard farm at the site was targeted for excavation which revealed four structures that were abandoned in the late seventeenth century. The use of each of these structures is unclear from the excavated evidence, and whether they originally formed two separate crofts as the village plan would suggest has not been confirmed (Hayfield 1988). The excavation did not reveal evidence for structures earlier than the fifteenth century but pottery from the site would suggest occupation from the eleventh century. The historical sources for Cowlam match the archaeological evidence with a suggested depopulation between 1674 and 1680. Fourteen households had been recorded in 1674, and it has been suggested that the settlement was depopulated due to either a change in landowner or the tenants consolidating holdings (Hayfield 1988).

Plough-out remains of Cowlam village visible as soil marks. Copyright Google.
Plough-out remains of Cowlam village visible as soil marks. Copyright Google.

A number of sites have also under gone detailed historic and topographic surveys. The earthworks at Rotsea were surveyed in 1989 and the plan published in the same year, with a larger scale plan appearing in 1990 (Cocroft et al. 1989, 1990). The main hollow way takes two routes and it is suggested that they be could be different phases with the more sinuous route replaced at a later date (Cocroft et al. 1989). The survey and combined documentary evidence has shown that the nucleated medieval village became reduced to a number of substantial farms and was finally deserted as dispersed farms were developed. It is suggested that the change from village to individual farms came about by the early sixteenth century possibly with the conversion to pasture. A map of 1784 shows the settlement had been completely depopulated by this time (Neave 1990).

Rotsea deserted village remains. Copyright Google.
Rotsea deserted village remains. Copyright Google.

The research undertaken at Eske shows how the physical remains can be matched to the documentary evidence (English and Miller 1991). This showed the re-planning of the site which occurred in 1300. Field walking produced a range of thirteenth to sixteenth-century pottery, but all the later fifteenth-century sherds were fine tablewares indicating that just the leading tenants remained in residence. A north-south street with a number of tofts and sunken yards is visible. The tofts to the east of the hollow way appear to have no crofts. To the south of this area is an east-west hollow way leading to the River Hull. This is suggested as the original focus of the settlement with the area to the north as a planned expansion sometime before the late thirteenth century (English and Miller 1991).

Eske village: Google image from 2003
Eske village: Google image from 2003

Since the publication of the 1968 list of deserted settlements many more areas of desertion have been identified – particularly areas of shrunken settlement and it is anticipated that the list for the East Riding will increase once the county as a whole is reviewed.

References

Beresford, M.W. 1952. ‘The Lost Villages of Yorkshire Part II’, Yorkshire Archaeological Journal 38: 44-70.

Beresford, M.W. 1954. The Lost Villages of England. London: Lutterworth.

Brewster, T.C.M., P. Armstrong and P. Hough 1975. ‘Excavations at Hilderthorpe’, East Riding Archaeologist 2: 71-81.

Cocroft, W.D., P. Everson and W.R. Wilson-North 1989. ‘The Deserted Medieval Village of Rotsea, Humberside’, Medieval Settlement Research Group 4: 14-17.

Cocroft, W.D., P. Everson and W.R. Wilson-North 1990. ‘Rotsea’, Medieval Settlement Research Group 5: 19-20.

Cookson, G. 2010-2011. ‘Menethorpe: Rediscovering a Lost Village’, The Rydale Historian 25: 22-31.

English, B. and K. Miller 1991. ‘The Deserted Village of Eske, East Yorkshire’, Landscape History 13: 5-32.

Harvey, M. 1980. ‘Regular Field and Tenurial Arrangements in Holderness, Yorkshire’, Journal of Historical Geography  6: 3-16.

Harvey, M. 1982. ‘Regular Open-Field Systems of the Yorkshire Wolds’, Landscape History 4: 29-39.

Hayfield, C. 1988. ‘Cowlam Deserted Village: a Case Study of Post-Medieval Village Desertion’, Post-Medieval Archaeology  22: 21-109.

Neave, S. 1990. Rural Settlement Contraction in the East Riding of Yorkshire c. 1660-1760 with Particular Reference to the Bainton Beacon Division. University of Hull Unpublished PhD Thesis.

Phillpott, M. 2005. ‘A Landscape Study of a Deserted Medieval Settlement at Arras, East Yorkshire’, Medieval Settlement Research Group Annual Report 20: 31-33.

Sheppard, J.A. 1976. ‘Medieval Village Planning in Northern England: Some Evidence from Yorkshire’, Journal of Historical Geography 2: 3-20.

Wacher, J. 1966. ‘Excavations at Riplingham East Yorkshire 1956-7’, Yorkshire Archaeological Journal 41: 608-669.

Wilson, D. and D.G. Hurst 1967. ‘Medieval Britain in 1966’, Medieval Archaeology 11: 262-319.